Category Archives: 1944

Laura (1944)

Love is eternal. It has been the strongest motivation for human actions throughout history. Love is stronger than life. It reaches beyond the dark shadow of death.

— Waldo Lydecker

I was flipping through the channels one night and I found that Otto Preminger’s movie, Laura was about to start. I believe that I saw some parts of the ending of this movie in passing before. This movie was nominated for five Oscars and won for Best Black & White Cinematography. Seeing that I was mostly disappointed with the movies that were released this year, I wanted to see a classic movie to cleanse my palate of the dreck.

This film noir is about a young woman named Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) that was murdered in her apartment. This movie deals with the aftermath when Det. Lt. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) interviews an acquaintance of the victim, columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) who is writing his column while soaking in the tub. Lydecker is one step ahead of him that he types out his alibi when Laura was murdered.

McPherson is going to interview potential suspects and Lydecker comes along on his day. First, the duo meets Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson) who is Laura’s aunt. They talk about her whereabouts during the time of her murder. She has some sort of attraction to Laura’s fiancé, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). McPherson wants to know if she has a motive to bump her off.

There is also a possibly that the fiancé wanted to kill Laura in order to marry Ann. McPherson wants the two men to go Laura’s apartment to find the key for the country house that she was about to go to when she was killed. Carpenter’s story starts to show cracks when he planted the key in her apartment. McPherson decides to gather more evidence.

During a dinner conversation with Lydecker, Lydecker recounts the day that he met the plucky Laura while at lunch, who wanted to show him her ad mock-up to get a write up in his column. Their relationship starts as Laura’s career in advertising picks up. There is more affection on Lydecker’s side of the relationship. He feels threatened by Shelby Carpenter, who swoops in to steal Laura away. Waldo is cast aside as Laura and Shelby relationship continues. Waldo tries to dissuade Laura into marrying Shelby by telling her that he might be having an affair with a model at Laura’s company, Diane Redfern.

McPherson begins to put the pieces together when he is spending more time over at Laura’s apartment. He rifles through her personal things to read her letters from Waldo or her diary to find clues about who could have killed her. All the stories that have been repeated back at McPherson; he realizes that he has fallen in love with her.

I love the character of Waldo Lydecker. He is quick on his feet with the witty quips toward different characters. I thought the movie was a little bit melodramatic with some of the acting of the maid, Bessie (Dorothy Adams) and some of Shelby turned me off. The ending of the movie was satisfying even though I figured out who did it from the beginning.

Judgment: If you want to see a frothy whodunit, I would recommend this movie.

Rating: ***1/2

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Double Indemnity (1944)

double_indemnity

How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?

— Walter Neff

On the suggestion of my film blogger, Chazz Lyons from Gone Cinema Poaching, I watched Double Indemnity last night.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Billy Wilder and Best Actress for Barbara Stanwyck. It is currently #47 on the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb. It deserves to be there.

Based on the novel, “Double Indemnity in Three of a Kind” by James M. Cain; director Billy Wilder and co-screenwriter Raymond Chandler sends the viewer a wild rise in the late 1930s Los Angeles.

Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is an insurance salesman that is infatuated with a beautiful married femme fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Walter comes by the Dietrichson residence to follow up on some paperwork that the husband, Mr. Dietrichson (Tom Powers).

Over subsequent visits, Phyllis tells Walter about the mistreatment that her husband does toward her. They decide to bump off the husband so they could get the money for the life insurance policy.

After the deed has been done, Walter’s coworker, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) begins to find cracks in seemingly perfect murder.

I loved every aspect of this movie. The rapid fire dialogue caught me off guard, but I got into it quickly. The acting across the board was fantastic. The score was intense.

Judgment: A masterful thrill ride with excellent dialogue, suspense and great performances. A must see!

Rating: *****

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